Not even the chaos of a mass 'Motocross-style' pitlane start could prevent MotoGP champion Marc Marquez completing a perfect nine race win-streak at Sachsenring on Sunday.
The Repsol Honda star will head into the summer break with a perfect 225 points, a massive 77 more than team-mate and nearest rival Dani Pedrosa.
Marquez beat Pedrosa by 1.4s in Germany, the pair being among 14 riders to dive into pit lane at the end of the formation lap, having realised that wet tyres were a mistake on the rapidly drying track.
“I thought the race would begin like Assen [on wet tyres] but then I saw it was drying really quickly,” explained Marquez. “I was on the limit between putting slicks and keeping rain tyres.
“Then I saw Bradl put slicks and maybe that was the best option, but my strategy was just to copy Dani and Valentino because they are my main opponents for the championship. They put wet tyres, I followed them. On the warm-up lap they went into the pits, so I followed them!”
Queued up tightly, the pit lane starters were released en masse once the other riders had reached turn one, with Marquez and Pedrosa heading the pursuit.
“It was like a Motocross start, everybody very tight, with the elbows out,” smiled Marquez. “It was nice, but a little bit dangerous too because I think for everybody when we pushed for the brakes, the carbon brakes did not stop the bike. That was maybe the most dangerous, at the first corner. It also maybe looked a little bit strange on TV but it was nice from there on.”
Home star Stefan Bradl was the only rider to correctly predict slicks, but a wet bias to his set-up meant he was passed by Marquez and Pedrosa within six of the 30 laps. Marquez then broke Pedrosa's challenge with ten laps to go.
“I managed the situation at the beginning when it was quite dangerous, but in the end everything was completely dry and our rhythm was like FP4 and the warm-up,” said Marquez.
To make things worse for his beleaguered rivals, Marquez was far from physically fit this weekend.
“All weekend I didn't feel so powerful because on Wednesday I had a fever. So high. Then I took antibiotic and after two antibiotics your body feels a bit tired,” explained Marquez, who also hurt his neck in a nasty Friday morning highside. “Already before the race I felt tired, but on the bike I was able to forget and push 100 percent.”
Marquez is the first rider to win the opening nine races of the year since Giacomo Agostini won the opening ten grands prix in 1970. Mick Doohan also won successive races in 1997, although not the first ten.
“This first half of the season for me is perfect, especially because I won every race and in qualifying I've stayed on the front row every time,” reflected Marquez. “I'm really happy with the job of the team too, they've helped me a lot especially in the first races when I arrived without pre-season testing [after breaking his leg in the winter].
“They did a great job and now everything is going well. The job is done, so now we can go for the summertime with the mentality free.”
But before that, Marquez and Pedrosa will head for a test session at Brno.
“The holiday will be a bit shorter because we have the Brno test, but it will be important for the race to find a base set-up and also try some things on the bike. At that circuit you always get very good testing information. Then we will do minimum of one week completely free, then prepare or Indianapolis.”